In the aromantic community, not everyone accompanies their romantic orientation label with a sexual orientation label. The same is true in the reverse in the asexual community, as well. People in these communities who feel alienated by the community norm of the Romantic/Sexual Orientation Dyad have what I’ve been referring to as non-rosol identities — and where the topic comes up in aro blogging, I’ve noticed some distinct and specific patterns, some of which have even surprised me.
Note, some posts about this already do exist: there’s this very short bullet point list by Kricketot and also this post at Aromantic Ruminations. My goal with this post is to elaborate more on those patterns and include links for further reading, while also trying to be more technically accurate with terminology. On that note, you will notice that, aside from this sentence, in this post I won’t be using the term “non-SAM,” and there’s a good reason for that.
This is, naturally, not an exhaustive list. It doesn’t aim to be. But hopefully it is a list that can encourage some further conversation.
Narratives of convergent identity
In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad is described in terms of a convergent, composite orientation. For example, for some people on the aromantic spectrum, the use of two separate labels for their orientation implies a separation that doesn’t match what is felt, because then those labels come across as (falsely) representing two distinct, different orientations. The adamant separation of romance & sexuality may even become an obstacle or source of frustration in some aro/ace contexts, making it difficult to talk about experiences that don’t distinguish between the two. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, here, and here.
Narratives of divergent identity
In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad involves contrasting the clarity of aromanticism (or another aro spectrum identity) against a comparatively unclear sexuality. For example, this can involve struggling to pinpoint the specifics because the feelings are vague, confusing, and unclear. Recognizing this challenge is not necessarily the same as “questioning,” though, because these narratives may include a marked apathy or disinterest in “figuring it out.” Instead, these aros leave it unspecified. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, here, here, and here.
This narrative was interesting to me because, as a quoiromantic gray-a, I’ve noticed some parallels here to gray and quoi experiences, which can both involve a lot of ambiguity, fuzziness, and giving up on specific categories. To be clear, I mention this not because I think more people should be adopting those labels, but because I believe in making connections and recognizing common ground. Here are some links for further reading on quoi and gray experiences, so you can see just what I mean in saying it’s similar:
Narratives of alienation
In some narratives, feeling at odds with the Romantic/Sexual Dyad involves specific references to alienation from the asexual community. For instance, this may involve considering oneself to be sex-favorable and, on that basis, not relating to a lot of asexual people. Some examples of where I have encountered this narrative include here, here, and here.
This one struck me as especially unexpected, even though in retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised — because we already knew about the see-saw cycle and how the sex-adjective descriptors can be a prime candidate for it. I suppose a part of my surprise also came from seeing the term “sex-favorable” being used by people who don’t identify as ace (with that being such an ace-derived term and all). So on that note, here are some links to further writing by/for/about sex-favorable aces, who identify with sex-favorability and asexuality both:
- Asexuals who like sex, and why we talk about them
- Reflections on the Use and Boundaries of Sex-Favourable Asexual as a Term
- Living as a Sex-Favourable Asexual
- 20 narratives of aces who like sex
- We Don’t Know if Asexuals Do or Don’t Want to Have Sex Because They Are All Queer Cats
The reason I think it makes sense to share these here is, again, not to tell anyone “no actually, you can still be ace” or tell anybody what label to use. The reason is 1) to make a connection between a dynamic occurring in the aro community & a related dynamic occurring in the ace community, and 2) to point out to aces how the latter is impacting the former. At this stage, I’m not suggesting any particular response to it
because I’d end up on a tangent about a different subject altogether. We already know it’s a tough issue to resolve. In the mean time, I’m just sticking a pin in this topic as something that continues to affect us, sometimes in newer and still developing ways.